A pixel-precise platformer that’s a cut above.#
When it comes to twitch platforming games, precision is key. Your actions - and reactions - are like a fine blade, honed through patience and repetition. The ultimate goal? To use those skills to systematically take apart levels, figuring out what makes them tick before hacking the perfect path through. But the precision of twitch platformers is not just in the playing; it’s in the design too. You’re only as powerful as a developer makes you feel.
At times, ManChickenTurtle has us convinced we can fly. Our diminutive, katana-wielding hero - out to save lost souls by splitting them in two - has an enjoyably floaty double-jump, refilled by touching the ground or clinging to walls.
Then there’s the titular slice move. It’s a multi-directional dash-strike that does double duty as an attack and a movement ability, its three uses refilled by touching surfaces and severing souls. Slice explains these jump and dash charges well: we find ourselves wishing for a UI element reminding us of how many we have of each, but keeping track soon becomes second-nature as the level design slowly teaches us how to make the most of our momentum.
The most exhilarating moments of Slice are in later runs of levels, where your skills are at their sharpest, and all the messy groundwork pays off. ManChickenTurtle subtly sets up a chain of obstacles that we identify through trial-and-error, a red ‘x’ marking our previous deaths. A golden wall prevents us from wall-jumping up a chasm; we learn to save dash-strikes to make it through. We discover a soul at the top that can refill them, that some souls shoot projectiles that must be parried, and that a hidden hollow barrier grants access to the last target we need to clear the level. Then comes the golden run: we tear through the level in a practised blur of hops, slides and slashes, each part of our sequence feeding the next.
At a brisk half-hour runtime, and with the difficulty largely tied to mastering momentum to set the best times per level, this is a rare twitch platformer that feels welcoming to all. Fans of Super Meat Boy will find a lot to love here (you thought you’d seen your last buzzsaw? Think again), and there’s even a whiff of Hotline Miami about the place, thanks in no small part to a fantastic collaborative soundtrack. Switching between ominous, Carpenter Brut-esque synths and funky lo-fi jams from level to level, all made by different musicians in Dreams, it pairs beautifully with the frenetic pace of the action - and complements the painted scenes (the work of shandyboy1975) that tell Slice’s story.
Indeed, it’s the details of this platformer that leave a lasting impression, from the way your character moves in the air under the slightest instruction, to the professional presentation achieved with the contributions of other dreamers. We thought we were precise. We’ve got nothing on ManChickenTurtle.
VERDICT: Fast, fluid, and built with the utmost care, this slice-and-dice twitch platformer scores highly in our book. (Scores? Get it? Ah, never mind.)
(Requires that you own Dreams)
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